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Tangolates, also known in Buenos Aires as Tango-Pilates and Pilates-Tango, is a method of conscious, mind-body exercises designed in Buenos Aires by Tamara Di Tella. It is based on certain characteristics of both Tango dancing and Pilates, yet it is different from both. It combines the core stability of Pilates with the concentration, coordination and fluid movement of Tango. It is unique in that it utilizes a partner method rather than individual exercises and that it incorporates the aerobic or cardio element of music.
Tangolates is usually performed on a specially designed apparatus, on a mat, or on the Pilates apparatus.
Originally a rehabilitation technique conceived for patients with severe dysfunctions of the nervous system, Tangolates has transcended the hospital environment to become a fashionable workout for healthy people.
Tangolates originated in 2004 in a public hospital for patients with motor disorders. Pilates’ exercises were prescribed as part of their treatment at the Tamara Di Tella Pilates Room in the Hospital of the School of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires. In order to help patients with their workouts, each one was coupled with an instructor in partner exercises. Later on, a strong beat rhythm—Tango—was introduced to help them initiate movement. Gradually, these routines designed for two and choreographed to Tango music, became Tangolates.
In order to assess the effects of these exercises on patients, a preliminary test of efficacy was conducted at the Tamara Di Tella’s Pilates Room. The results of this research were presented at the 10th International Congress of Internal Medicine, held on 24-27 August 2004, in Buenos Aires.
Patients were convoked for 325 sessions, over a period of three months. Afterwards, patients asserted that the exercises helped them “not only to move better but also to feel better”. Their evaluations led to the conclusion that Tangolates partner exercises help patients improve, not only their movement but also their quality of life.
According to Di Tella, the fact that Tangolates requires a rapport between two people is a very interesting subject of research. Partner work may help stimulate the brain and could become an alternate pathway to successful movement. “It is that internal ignition that may just work for some brain disorder patients”, says Di Tella. Indeed, Tango’s strong and focused beat and the fact that it is done in close coordination with a partner is an excellent stimulus to initiate movement. “Tango stimulates cooperation and creates bond like no other dance, and this is an extraordinary motivator for some patients”, says Di Tella.
Tangolates combines the coordination and core stability that is inherent to Pilates with the cardio or aerobic element of Tango. Tangolates introduces some new principles, among which are partner work, cardio, music, coordination, strength and assisted stretching.
In Tangolates partner routines patients compensate their “lack of imagination” by “copying” their instructors’ movements. It is as if a reflection of reality were created so that the instructor becomes a “mirror” that shows the patient his own “healthy self”. All the patient has to do is stand in front of the instructor and imitate his movements. This makes it much easier for the patient to get started.
Elizabeth Larkham, in an article published in PilatesStyle magazine, showed the advantages of partner work. “Partner exercises allow you…to develop core strength, increase flexibility, and improve balance”, said Larkham, Director of Pilates and Beyond and formerly Director of the Center for Sports Medicine in San Francisco.
Tangolates partner routines condition the entire body in partner workouts, providing flowing movement, centering and concentration. They also provide for a tall and elegant posture. Flexibility and muscle tone, plus lengthening of the body and alignment of the spine are some extra bonuses of Tangolates.
“Tangolates” is a registered trademark both in Argentina and the United States.
In recent years Tangolates has transcended the hospital environment and worked itself into the mainstream as more and more healthy people enjoy performing its new workouts.
- Pilates, Joseph (1928). Pilates' Return to Life Through Contrology. New York, NY: Presentation Dynamics (December 31, 1998). ISBN 978-0-9614937-9-0.
- Blandine Calais-Germain (1993). Anatomy of Movement. Eastland Press. ISBN 978-0-939616-17-6.
- Di Tella, Tamara (2005). Tangolates. Tamara Di Tella Pilates & Tangolates.
- Di Tella, Tamara (2003). Tamara Di Tella Pilates. Blue Series, LUMEN.